About 30 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, in downtown Petaluma, Sonoma Valley Portworks is quietly making pleasant port and a product that, in their words and mine, you’ve never tasted anything like. They call it Sonomic almost Vinegar, make it from 100% California cabernet sauvignon grape juice, and sell it at $18/bottle, which I consider reasonable for such a unique, unforgettable product. Sonomic Vinegar has an obvious relationship to balsamic vinegar but is sweeter, with less pucker, and more viscous than most young, grocery store balsamics. This concoction can easily play the role of a balsamic, splashed on traditional Caprese salad or wisked into a vinaigrette, but it’s also begging for creative applications like adding an exotic touch to grilled meats, or my favorite, drizzled on a pear crisp with vanilla ice cream.
Sonoma Valley Portworks is open most days of the week for free tastings. On one of my visits, the winemaker was our pourer and I was impressed that he took the time to talk in detail about each of his creations, of which my favorites, besides the almost vinegar, were easily the two Aris Ports, one made of 100% petite syrah and the other of 100% petite verdot.